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Finding Contentment...I guess that is the goal??
Old 06-09-2008, 10:41 PM   #1
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Finding Contentment...I guess that is the goal??

Contentment. Inner peace. Statisfaction. Being well centered...


Whatever you want to call it, THAT is what I'm looking for. Who isn't, right? Right

I seem to never be at an inner peace...if so it doesnt last too long. But why? I feel most of my discontent comes from desires for material things. I KNOW this does not bring happiness, but my body is programmed to lust for things. So I work hard to buy one of these many 'things'....enjoy it for a bit...and then realize that particular 'thing' isn't what makes me happy.

example: Ive been considering buying a house on the lake for weekend getaways. Pretty much just a summer house 1.5 hrs from home, with a fire pit, a dock, a cool florida room with spacious bar, an inlaw suite, etc. I imagine myself sitting around the bar,having a blast with 6 or 7 other people, kids outside by the fire, laughing, eating,enjoying life. I REALLY want something like that. but then i sit back and think that the place wouldnt be so cool if those people werent there with me. It's the PEOPLE that make that daydream enjoyable....and the atmosphere amplifies that.

So my psychological analysis is that i need to start working on my personal relationships more...making them my passion as opposed to work, $$$, retirement, fast cars etc. Dont get me wrong...i LOVE my family...immediate and extended. But I feel like we should be connecting on another level that i've never in my life been able to achieve. am i too selfish? instant gratification for ME trumps all it seems. But it' like a disease!!!

i am NEVER content. I cant come home early from work (3pm) and just relax...play with the kids. Nope. Gotta run here or there to buy a hose or ant poison or to the grocery store or just take a cruise in the Camaro or go do SOMETHING. Something productive always...as i feel i dont have time to waste.im sprinting in this race called life....the so-called marathon. im sprinting toward paying my house off, paying off debt,saving,retiring,THEN relaxing. But i know i never will relax. too greedy for$$$, too much energy. cant goto sleep before 2-ish or i might miss something. gotta check this forum. gotta check weather. gotta check email. gotta look at all online accounts daily for a snapshot of my finances. aaahhhh! better get to bed soon...7am is right around the corner...gotta do those 2 jobs tomorrow,hit the bank,swing by wally world, change the tire on the tractor, tear off shingles from shed and prepare tore-roof.....ahhhh....the cycle continues


where's that inner peace? i think i was at peace when i was at my son's first pro baseball game for his bday last week. but quickly it was snatched away as i got a call from a nagging customer...then the thoughts started up again.

did i mention im a perfectionist? example:a seemingly relaxing hobby of pellet gun target shooting in my backyard turned into an expensive quest to put 5 pellets through the same hole at 25 yards. took a while,but i got er done! it also consumed my life for a solid month...before work,after work,while i had food on the grill....ALL THE TIME. when i get into something, i seemingly go balls-to-the-wall until i mentally drain myself and lose interest.

if youre still reading this ramble you must be bored or something...geez....sounds like a conversation i need to have with a shrink,eh?

i guess there is no point to this post,unless you want to comment

no,im not crazy, i swear. i leave you with a quote:

"The source of all mentally created dissatisfactions appears to stem from the ability to compare and contrast experiences and find reality as one is living it to be less than ideal. The solution is to seek out ways to either make experienced reality conform to the ideal or to lower expectations to the level of the experienced. When one can live in the moment with expectations in harmony with experiences one has achieved the greatest mental contentment possible. "
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:58 PM   #2
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Is the lake house a childhood memory?
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:01 PM   #3
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Is the lake house a childhood memory?
as a matter of fact, we did frequent a lake house very near the one im looking at...i totally forgot about that. i think my uncle sold it by the time i was 7 or 8
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:05 PM   #4
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Before retiring, I had a job that everyone thought was the best job around...I got to travel all over the world - often on corporate jets -- going to incredible events and meeting the most interesting people you can imagine. Yet, often the job left me feeling empty, as in "ok, that was nice, so what, what's next?"

I didn't figure it out until after I retired that for me, my problem was that I was never in the moment. I was always looking ahead to the next trip, event, meeting, dinner, whatever. And then I realized that I carried over that "looking ahead" to most things in my life...heck, I even finished sentences for people who were speaking slower than I was listening!

And to add to the mix, for awhile there, I was caught up in the need for conspicious consumption. When I think now about the $$ I spent, trying to buy happiness, well, I could make myself quite ill.

Then my DH and I went through a period of loss that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Between his family and mine, we lost 13 members of our families (along with DH's best friend) over a two year period. Maybe it was all the eulogies or the services at graveside, but something finally hit me upside the head. Things weren't going to make me a better or happier person...and rushing through life wasn't going to make whatever time I have here any better.

Before I retired, I made a conscious decision to stop spending money on "stuff". I asked my family to stop buying me things and if they wanted to get me something, I wanted experiences. So, I got gifts like a series of water color painting lessons, a membership in the local museum, tickets to concerts, etc.

And I decided that I would slow down. I stopped driving in the high speed lane (literally). I started cooking more dinners at home and serving them on the good china in the dining room. I called and reconnected with some old friends. I started taking long walks every day, without my iPod connected to my ears, and discovered the sounds of nature. I turned off the TV most nights and renewed my library card. I'm not a fully recovered mal-content yet; but despite the fact that my income is less than 1/3 what it was at my peak, I am happiest I've been since I was a child.

I can't offer you any suggestions beyond what worked for me, but I do sincerely hope you find the contentment that is inside you. That's really the key to all this: you have it in you, no person or thing is going to make you fully content.

Good luck.
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:22 AM   #5
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achiever: that sounds fairly familiar. living in the moment i suspect is the answer....just DOING IT seems the be the issue. thanks for sharing your experience it really makes sense

my mind just doesnt allow me to NOT look forward....ya know? im a planner, estimator, daydreamer. but im going to try to tone it down...
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:38 AM   #6
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I've always been a Type A, I'm an Engineer by trade. In my 20's/30's I was driven by material things, keeping up with the Joneses and being promoted faster/farther than my peers. And I have been very fortunate in terms of $ and where it has taken me. But in my 40's, I started to realize that 'the best things in life aren't things.' Fortunately I was smart enough that I didn't go into debt for things, but I noticed that some of my peers were complete slaves to their possessions. If the economy took a downturn and their bonus dropped, they were selling off BMW's. They had huge houses, with several unfurnished rooms (?). Then my MegaCorp sold off our division and our pensions were frozen and retiree healthcare disappeared. Forced me to start to do my own financial planning and see how much preparation was necessary. May sound strange, but losing the pension and retiree healthcare in my early 40's was one of the best things that happened to me, it woke me up before it was too late (had to be awful for others in their 50's/60's though). I also read Your Money or Your Life when it came out - had quite an impact. The Millionaire Next Door had a big impact. More recently, Work Less, Live More and How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free have helped a lot. Where I used to want status, I now enjoy being underestimated. I love it when people think I'm just a regular guy with no assets. I avoid wealthy friends (who like to spend as a sport), 'the richer your friends, the more it will cost you.' I'm still on the journey, but I would say consciously developing friendships with people who were more in the moment and less materialistic helped. So did exposing myself to books (and continuing to reinforce with more books) in the same vein has helped too. May not be much help. I am still a Type A, but at least I enjoy simpler things and material goods have less and less appeal as each year goes by. Good luck...
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:44 AM   #7
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We had family over for a cookout this past Sunday and I had to really make an effort not to get antsy in the evening about getting ready for tomorrow. I did manage to relax and enjoy everyone.

Prayer helps a lot. I leave my worries and anxieties with Him.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:38 AM   #8
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TheFed - - I have three suggestions.

(1) Take a page out of Khan's book, and watch the squirrels. Budget at least an hour every day to relax in peace and solitude, outdoors in nature. This should be in as close to absolute silence as you can find, with no music or talking. No thinking about what you have to do later, either. Just experience nature and the universe, and how you fit into it. If your yard won't work for this, go to a nearby botanical garden or park. Make finding inner peace a higher priority than errands or chores. Those who care about you will understand.

(2) Take some time to read spiritual texts (such as the Bible or texts from other religions or philosophies). Even though I am not religious in the sense of organized religion, I bought a Bible a while back and find that reading it is very calming and brings me much inner peace.

(3) Cut back on or eliminate caffeine, cigarettes, refined sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, and exercise or at least walk for a half hour each day.

An extra benefit from becoming well centered, content, satisfied, or having inner peace, whatever you call it, is that you will probably connect more with what you really want and what really doesn't matter to you. This has the side effect of being great for LBYM, as well as inner peace.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:00 AM   #9
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achiever: that sounds fairly familiar. living in the moment i suspect is the answer....just DOING IT seems the be the issue. thanks for sharing your experience it really makes sense

my mind just doesnt allow me to NOT look forward....ya know? im a planner, estimator, daydreamer. but im going to try to tone it down...
fed, I have the same problem. It has gotten (slightly) easier as I have gotten older, but its tough to explore how one might live more in the moment when you live a life that requires and rewards constant planning, activity, hard work, obsessing, etc.

I don't have the answer for you, but I can offer some hope. In the past year or two , I have noticed that when I intentionally place myself in a place/situation where I am not in my rut of planning and worrying, I relax and see what is going on around me much more than in my frantic normal daily life. Noticed this last month when we went on a 4 day camping trip with the kids (and the TV does not come with us in the travel trailer). Instead of all the distractions and stresses that I normally cope with, being away from all that meant that I spent a lot of time just sitting on a bench in the woods with my older daughter, or hiking along a path, or playing with the kids in the playground. So I think the environment makes a huge difference in how you act and experience things.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:27 AM   #10
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No cosmic answers from me, but it's worth reading this book about meditation if you can get past the stereotypes which surround the topic. It need not be done in a religious context.

I refer a lot of patients to it, but find that some people, usually young, are just not quite ready for whatever reason. Ironic, because they are among those who could benefit the most.

It is not a solution in and of itself, but more a process for allowing you to find your own answers by piercing all the layers of fantasy and runaway thoughts we all weave our lives around. If you're diligent, you'll look at the world just a little differently.

Of course, just raising the questions you raise is a nice step.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:32 AM   #11
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What great advice you've garnered here, theFed! It is good stuff for all of us to read, as more of us are like you than we'll admit!

I just lost a wonderfully content friend in April, and preparing the eulogy for the funeral was a real exercise in what really matters in life. You have hit on your answer, which is your personal relationships...now just to get there! I'm facing the same struggles, but at least I feel better knowing where I need to go.

Why my friend Bobby was so content is because of those relationships--people I wasn't aware even knew him, remembered him very fondly. It is funny, but he took time to make a connection with nearly everyone he met, even if only for a few minutes. I don't think I could be that outgoing, but it worked for him.

I'm trying to learn contentment as well, and mostly it is as you say, trying to be in the moment rather than looking ahead all the time. It is okay to look ahead--that is what has brought us success in life, but there are also times where watching the squirrels would be good, too!

Likewise, the book reading is a good suggestion, that is just about the only time my mind can be "still". Keep trying, you are on the right track, theFed. I wish you luck, as I surely know how elusive contentment can be, especially when pursued with the fervor we seem to pursue all new goals (I had to chuckle about the pellet gun--I do that with every new hobby/interest)!
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:56 AM   #12
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With the recent illness of a close friend, it made DH and I realise that we had to spend less time focussed on our game plan of FIRing and more on cultivating and feeding personal relationships. Since that time our lives have improved significantly. Instead of blathering about getting together with friends in the future, we sit down and make a firm date, book the flights and do it. We take the time to make those phone calls that we were always to busy to do so before and we make the effort that we were too tired to do so. Just remember things don't make you happy, if you get ill and are lying in a hospital bed, none of those things will be taking time out of their schedule to drop by to see you.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:10 AM   #13
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It sounds like you are redefining "success" to fit your personal life. Everyone must do it at some point to reach true contentment. Good luck on your journey...
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:42 AM   #14
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TheFed - - I have three suggestions.

(1) Take a page out of Khan's book, and watch the squirrels. Budget at least an hour every day to relax in peace and solitude, outdoors in nature. This should be in as close to absolute silence as you can find, with no music or talking. No thinking about what you have to do later, either. Just experience nature and the universe, and how you fit into it. If your yard won't work for this, go to a nearby botanical garden or park. Make finding inner peace a higher priority than errands or chores. Those who care about you will understand.

(2) Take some time to read spiritual texts (such as the Bible or texts from other religions or philosophies). Even though I am not religious in the sense of organized religion, I bought a Bible a while back and find that reading it is very calming and brings me much inner peace.
Proverbs of Solomon

Tao Te Ching

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Epic of Gilgamesh

On the Nature of Things: De rerum natura
(Lucretius)

Analects of Confucius

These are the thoughts of people of various times and places, struggling to understand themselves and their place in the universe.

It is interesting to note what they have in common.
-----------------------------
Schedule a time to read/meditate (at least once a week)

Read from the printed page, not the computer

Read slowly in small segments

Go for a slow walk afterwards

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(3) Cut back on or eliminate caffeine, cigarettes, refined sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, and exercise or at least walk for a half hour each day.
I rather like the idea of the traditional Sabbath (day of rest). My version is once a month have a day where I turn off the phone, don't turn on TV or radio or any other source of noise, don't wash laundry or dishes.

You could schedule one day a month as a don't speak day.

Actor Larry Hagman doesn't speak on Sundays; it started as doctor's orders after he had some throat problems, and he found out he liked it and he's been doing it ever since.

Quote:
An extra benefit from becoming well centered, content, satisfied, or having inner peace, whatever you call it, is that you will probably connect more with what you really want and what really doesn't matter to you. This has the side effect of being great for LBYM, as well as inner peace.
Very true.

It's amazing what I used to think was important and desirable.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:13 AM   #15
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I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. I am content most of the time. I still have goals and tasks, but I have a general overall theme of being quite satisfied with life and with the things I already have. I don't meditate, but I do try to take time every day to have some quiet time away from TV, computers and radio.

I'm not a very needy person, I don't have a need to have a lot of people around me and I don't need a lot of attention. In an effort to live a LBYM lifestyle I've found I need very little new stuff.

On the other hand, my sister is very needy in terms of things, activities, people and attention. She travels 4-6 times a year, so as soon as she's back from one trip she's planning the next one. She has a tough time just being still and quiet. Or alone. So I can understand where you are coming from.

There's nothing wrong with either of us, we just have different inner workings. I have a very low level of what it takes to feel happy/content/satisfied. So I feel that way most of the time. She has higher needs so it takes a lot for her to feel that way. And she knows it, she's always searching for what's missing that would make her happier.

In my marathon of life, I walk at a steady pace and enjoy where I am, other people want to sprint on through because it's got to be better up ahead.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:22 AM   #16
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When I was younger, I was at full tilt. I was all about working, playing and taking risks. I was very frustrated and at times angry about situations and events in which I had no control. Contentment was not a part of my life.
I constantly searched for more...never seemed to have enough.

Now that I'm older, I'm more content. I am still adventurous and I look to the future.

My life may not be all that I want it to be, but I feel content most times. I am still learning to slow down, be grateful for what I have and accept the things I cannot change.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:27 PM   #17
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if you never want to be disappointed, then have no expectations. whether you are attached to things or people, one day that wonderful puppy dog will break your heart and so it is observable that suffering is inherent to all of life. if you are not satisfied, then seek a higher quality of discontent.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:15 PM   #18
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Good topic, theFed, you may as well have signed your post "Grizz". I bought the lake lot last fall with the same idealistic visions of relaxation and fun as you. Trouble is I have never learned to sit back on the deck with a beer and just empty out the brain. Despite my best intentions, I find myself thinking about stuff like....I should plant some trees over there.....another shed would be nice.....wood pile could be bigger....should paint the jet ski trailer. Next thing you know, I've got 3 days work planned and have spent $1000 only to have another beer and come up with more improvements to do.

We do have rec time there as well, and the kids love it. For me though, being at peace with my surroundings is a challenge and like you, I expect that my attention needs to shift to more time with friends and away somewhat from stuff and projects.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:31 PM   #19
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I guess I already have a little piece of contentment every day. I already live on a lake in the city and enjoy laying out on the back deck in the hammock for hours at a time. Sometimes I'll read a good thought provoking book, or chit-chat with whoever is over (family, friends, acquaintances, etc). Or engage in deep philosophical debates w/ DW or good friends.

Sometimes I'll watch the kids play in the yard. As long as the feet are propped up, it is all good.
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Old 06-10-2008, 02:07 PM   #20
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Consider adopting a homeless dog or cat. Not only will you feel good about saving a life, you can learn a lot about inner peace and contentment from animals. Cats are always content and self assured. Dogs are always glad to see you and thrilled with any activity. Both cats and dogs live in the moment. We can learn a lot from them.
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